What is cryptocurrency’s role in the future of money?

ELAD GIL: So, from an end-user perspective there's a lot of questions around the impact of either Bitcoin or blockchains. And if you look at the very best technologies they tend to sort of eventually fade seamlessly into the background. So for example, you're using your phone every day, but you don't necessarily understand how TCPIP is working in terms of transmitting data on the Internet. And there's lots of examples like that where the best technology sort of fades into the background in terms of what you're doing. In the case of Bitcoin or related cryptocurrencies a lot of the near-term impact of that is really around financial services and the emergence of a new digital asset class. And so if you look at Bitcoin really what it is is in some sense a store of value or a store of wealth, and many people compare it to something like millennial gold. It's basically a digital asset that you hold as an investable product.

And so I think many of the early uses is just going to be this will end up being a part of everybody's portfolio in ten years, and you're going to have some proportion in bonds and some proportion in stocks, and then some proportion in cryptocurrencies. So I think for most people that's really how it's going to exist in the shorter-term. Some people are talking about the Web3 or Internet3 and how all infrastructure is going to flip over to decentralized cryptocurrency-based systems. I'm much more skeptical about that, at least in the short run. In part because centralized systems tend to be dramatically more efficient than decentralized systems; in other words if you look at the cost of running a centralized system it's much lower, you have bargaining power around the underlying hardware, you have economies of scale in terms of how you deploy it and where you place it, and also just running these systems is much simpler if you have a centralized approach.

What that means it is is that most of the times that you're going to see blockchains pop up is when you're using something that is uniquely associated with them. And if you ask what a blockchain is it's really sort of a bad database, but it has very unique characteristics where it has this notion of being trust-less, in other words you can, in aggregate, come to consensus or decisions together or conclusions around the quality of data, the quality of the transaction or other things in a way that no central authority can control.

And what that means is you've created systems that are effectively censorship proof or seizure resistant, in other words the government can't come and take your asset if you're in a country which has very bad governance, or it means that no third-party can suddenly accidentally erase your data, or you can't hack a third-party to access your data (although obviously you can still hack a blockchain).

And so really where that tends to crop up, if you ask "what are the things that I don't want the government or other third-party to take from me?" or a place where I want some notion of privacy around what I'm doing, it really tends to be around money or it tends to be around personal data. And in the long run I think those are the areas that are going to be most impacted, but I think in the short run really it's going to be about "Do you have a piece of this digital asset in your portfolio?"

  • The best technology fades into the background of our lives.
  • Cryptocurries will do the same, becoming a new asset class for investors like stocks and bonds.
  • Soon people will ask: "Do you have cryptocurrency in your investment porfolio?"


Hyperdimensional computing discovered to help AI robots create memories

New computing theory allows artificial intelligences to store memories.

Credit: Perception and Robotics Group, University of Maryland.
Technology & Innovation
  • To become autonomous, robots need to perceive the world around them and move at the same time.
  • Researchers create a theory of hyperdimensional computing to help store robot movement in high-dimensional vectors.
  • This improvement in perception will allow artificial intelligences to create memories.
Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less

Why inequality is a ticking time bomb – for poor and rich

Riots may ensue as more poor Americans recognize their "miserable" long-term prospects.

Videos
  • How bad is wealth inequality in the United States? About 1 percent of Americans hold 80 percent of the money.
  • In the United States, the correlation between the income of parents and the income of their children when they grow up is higher than in any other country in the world.
  • One of the big underlying reasons for poverty is receiving a crummy education, which in turn leads to crummy jobs. When people recognize their miserable long-term prospects, they are more likely to partake in riots.